Wednesday, June 17, 2020

His Word Today: Generosity

Good morning everyone,

Today, Jesus speaks with us about the attitude that we should have when we open our hearts in prayer.  It happens - sometimes far too often - that we do and say things so that we will be noticed by a superior, by a colleague, by a loved one ... but when it comes to prayer, Jesus reminds us that the only one we need to be noticed by is God, and God is always waiting for us, ready to spend time with us.  When you pray ... pray to your Father who is in secret (Mt 6: 6).

Our prayer should always result in a sharpened awareness of our concern for others.  This is the reason why Jesus counsels us to give alms in such a way that our right hands do not know what our left hands are doing (cf Mt 6: 3).  Our motivation for being generous should always come from a sense of doing good and doing justice, never from a desire to be noticed.

And the discipline of fasting should never be a means of attracting attention to ourselves.  Rather, it is a spiritual discipline meant to remind us of our dependence on God.  To do otherwise is to have missed the point.  This is the reason why Jesus cautions those who fast not to put on gloomy faces in order to attract attention to themselves (cf Mt 6: 16).

Today, let us pray for the grace to be genuine in our prayer and to marvel at the gift of God's generosity.

Have a great day.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

His Word Today: Love

Good morning everyone,

Today's gospel provides us with one of Jesus' teachings that often poses a challenge.  Speaking to his disciples, he said: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Mt 5: 44).

The natural human tendency is to respond to others in like manner to the way in which they respond to us: if someone likes me, I will make an effort to like them too, but if there is any struggle in a relationship, the natural response is to want to protect ourselves and so we shut off our hearts and close down any possibility of building and nurturing a relationship with the person who has caused us pain.

Jesus calls us not to close our hearts but rather to pray for those who cause us pain.  This does not mean that we should not protect ourselves but rather that we should always seek to keep our hearts open to the possibility that we ourselves might - in such circumstances - be being called to grow.

Today, let us do our best to love others, and to pray for those who are hardest to love.

Have a great day.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Bread from heaven

June 13 marks the liturgical memorial of Saint Anthony of Padua, a Franciscan preacher who was born in Lisbon (Portugal) but who is perhaps most famous in Italy.  Saint Anthony was a very gifted preacher and is still highly revered, especially for his great love for the poor.  In many places where his memory is evoked, people will bring bread as an expression of their devotion.  This bread is blessed and then distributed to the poor.  Perhaps it is also significant that on this weekend, when we remember and pray with this great saint, we also celebrate Jesus who is present among us in the form of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.

The first reading for today's Mass, taken from the Book of Deuteronomy, reminds us of the lives of our ancestors in faith who travelled with Moses in the desert.  For forty days and forty nights, the Lord led them in the wilderness, in order to humble them, testing them in order to know their hearts, whether or not they would keep his commandments (cf Deut 8: 2).  For more than three months now, our lives have been changed as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus.  Many aspects of our daily lives have not only been interrupted, but we have had to learn a new way of living.  For many of us, it has indeed seemed like a long journey through the wilderness.  Along the way, we have recognized a growing hunger for social and community events which have been so drastically changed, and most especially, our parish community.

Throughout this time, the Lord has not abandoned us.  For many of us, the inability to attend the weekly celebrations of the Eucharist in person have caused us to be increasingly aware of our hunger for the Eucharist.  Through the use of modern-day technology, we have tried to provide manna - the bread of heaven - to as many of you in a safe manner.  When this pandemic began, many of us were unacquainted with the power of technology.  Never before have we turned in such vast numbers to Facebook Live, to YouTube and to other means of technology in order to remain connected to our faith.  These new ways of celebrating will remain with us now, but even though we have been able to partake in this way, we still hunger for the Eucharist.

It is fitting that on this weekend, while we celebrate Jesus who is the living bread that came down from heaven (Jn 6: 51), I also have the great pleasure to confirm the announcement that was made by our diocesan Bishop that all Catholic churches in this Diocese will open our doors next weekend: in time for Fathers' Day.  We are still hard at work preparing to welcome you.  Our lives have already changed in many ways over these past few months, and you will also notice some changes that we have had to implement in order to keep us all safe.  There will still be three Masses celebrated each weekend, but the times will be slightly different: we will celebrate the Lord's day with Masses on Saturday at 4:00pm (English) and on Sunday at 9:30am (French) and at 11:30am (English) and at least for a little while, we will have to limit the number of people who can attend the Mass in person.  Because of the restrictions of social distancing, we will only be able to accommodate 50 people at each Mass.  In order to be fair, we will be contacting you to register your names for the Masses that you will attend, and you may not be able to be physically present from one week to another.  Fear not!  We will continue to live stream the Masses as we have been doing since this pandemic first arrived, so you will still be able to participate virtually, even if you need to stay home.  Please check our website ( for more information about how we are preparing to welcome you.

Dear friends, the words of Saint Paul's letter to the Corinthians are just as true today as they ever have been: The cup of blessing that we bless is ... a sharing in the Blood of Christ ... and the bread that we break is ... a sharing in the body of Christ (1 Cor 10: 16).  Let us give thanks today for the great gift of the Eucharist, and let us look with hope to the day when we will gather once again around the Lord's table to receive this precious gift.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

His Word Today: Give

Good morning everyone,

Today, the Lord encourages us not to lose focus, but rather to remain fixed on the mission that he has entrusted to us.  You are salt for the earth ... you are light for the world (Mt 5: 13-14).  These words sounded strange to the disciples when he first offered them, and they still ring strangely in our ears until we awaken to the depth of love that our God has for us.  Strengthened by this love, we become aware of the light he shines upon us; when we speak from the place of faith and truth, it is Jesus who speaks through us, seasoning our words with his words.

In order for this to happen, Jesus needs us to say yes; even though we ourselves might feel at times that we do not have the energy to respond, he asks us to give of ourselves.  The example of the widow of Zarephath provides inspiration for us today.  When Elijah arrived at that place, he found a widow who was gathering sticks.  He called out to her: 'Please bring me a small cupful of water to drink' (1 K 17: 10).  This poor woman was in a state of desperation.  When Elijah asked her to provide a small morsel of bread, she responded: As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked; there is only a handful of flour in my jar and a little oil in my jug. Just now I was collecting a few sticks, to go in and prepare something for myself and my son; when we have eaten it, we shall die (1 K 17: 12).  Yet, because she agreed to prepare a cake of bread for Elijah before the food that she and her son were to receive, she was rewarded.

As difficult as it might be at times to look to the needs of others rather than to our own, the Lord calls us to be outward focused.  If we choose to concentrate our efforts on serving others first, there will always be enough energy, enough love, enough of whatever we need.

Have a great day.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Complete Mystery

Today, the Church celebrates Trinity Sunday.  Once a year, on the Sunday after Pentecost, we focus our attention on God who is One, but who has been made known to us in three persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  The readings that we have just heard help us to understand who God is in light of this mystery and to comprehend what God does for us.

In the Book of Exodus, we hear the story of Moses who rose early in the morning and went up on Mount Sinai as God had commanded him to do ... The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there ... (Ex 34: 4-5).  Moses went up the mountain and God came down to meet him.  This is always the way.  We look to God for guidance, and he comes to us in order to reveal his mercy, his love, his faithfulness and his patience to us.  Whenever we ask God for the things we need, he answers us.  Sometimes his answers don't come immediately, and sometimes the answers are not as clearly defined as they were when they were chiseled into the stone tablets, but God always answers our prayers.

In the fullness of time, God revealed his plan for our salvation by sending Jesus his Son into the world.  Jesus took on human flesh so that we would be able to see him, to recognize his presence among us, to encounter the love that God has always had for us, his beloved children.  Through his life, death and resurrection, Jesus gave us an example of how we too can love God ... and how we can love one another.

After Jesus had risen from the dead, and after he had ascended to heaven, God the Father and God the Son sent us the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Our life in Jesus is a participation in this mystery which is beyond the limits of our understanding, but Saint Paul's letter to the Corinthians gives us some clarity about how we should live our lives.  He says that we should always strive to agree with one another, to live in peace with God and with one another (2 Cor 13: 11).  In order to help us do this, we must open our hearts and pray for the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father and the communion of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 13: 13) to be shared with us in great abundance.

Today, let us rejoice as we celebrate the great love that God has for each of us.  Our God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him (Jn 3: 16).  This is the good news that has been proclaimed to us.  We should strive to live it joyfully every day.

Friday, June 5, 2020

His Word Today: Saint Boniface

Good morning everyone,

Today, we pray with Saint Boniface, who was born in England around the year 673.  He entered monastic life in Exeter but in 719, went to Germany to preach the gospel.  As a result of the example of his holy life and his fearless teaching about Jesus, many in that land were converted.  Boniface was consecrated bishop and ruled over the church in Mainz.  With the help of many other converts, he also founded or restored dioceses in Bavaria, Thuringia and Franconia.

Like Saint Paul, Saint Boniface courageously demonstrated God's love through his teaching, his way of life, his faith, his patience, his love, his endurance and even his persecution and suffering (cf 2 Tim 3: 10-11) yet, none of this could deter him from his purpose.  In fact, while preaching the gospel to the Frisians, Saint Boniface was killed by pagans in 754.

Saint Boniface is not alone among those who have endured such suffering, and even death, yet from all these ... the Lord delivers us.  In fact, all who want to live ... in Jesus Christ will be persecuted (2 Tim 3: 12); this is a kind of litmus test.  Suffering is usually a sign that what we are doing needs to change, but when it comes to living our faith and to sharing this good news with others, suffering is often a sign that we are on the right path.  Jesus never promised that this work would be easy.  He only ever promised that he would never leave us alone.  He is constantly with us, encouraging us to be faithful.

Let us strive today to remain rooted in the sacred Scriptures, which are capable of giving us wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Tim 3: 15).

Have a great day.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

His Word Today: Important

Good morning everyone,

From the time when we are children, we begin to enter into various types of relationships: with our parents, with our siblings, with colleagues and with friends.  Each of these can be different in various ways, existing at differing levels of intimacy.  For those who are people of faith, our relationship with God is another of these, but whereas we ourselves may be the ones to initiate other types of relationships, it is God who comes to us first to offer the gift of friendship.

Every Jewish person knows the words spoken in today's gospel passage: The Lord our God is Lord alone!  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind, and with all your strength (Mk 12: 29-30).  These words need to be understood in the right context.  We are only able to love God with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength because God loved us first, with all God's heart.  It was because God opened His heart to us that we have learned how to love ourselves, to love others and to love God in return.

Loving God also bears fruit for our human relationships.  Jesus says that if our love for God is genuine, it will also be made known in the love we show to others.  This is the reason why he added the second command: You shall love your neighbour as yourself (Mk 12: 31) and gave it as much emphasis as our relationship with God.

Have I recognized God's love for me?  Has this love motivated me to be more thankful?  Has God's love for me softened my heart and made it possible for me to look at my brothers and sisters in a new light?

Have a great day.